Splinters

Describe a barn as seen by you, who have just lost a friend/sibling/parent/lover to war. Do not mention the friend/sibling/parent/lover, the war, or death.

I don’t remember the last time I visited.

The trees look longer now, like they always seem to do year by year. Their leaves are turning into new shades of yellow, and small bits of orange creep up on the ones that have already fallen to the earth. The dark planks of wood on the foundation of the barn seem to have been peeling off their splinters on a daily basis. That same, old, rickety window is refusing to stay shut. I look up at it and try to pace my blinking with the same rhythm the wind uses to make it fly open and closed, open and closed, open, then slammed shut.

I figure that I would try to step inside, as one of the large front doors was already off two of its hinges and didn’t exactly give off a glow of new residency. My second foot hadn’t even received my full weight on the small steps to the entrance when I felt the wood begin to give, and with an awkward hop to the left my feet were barely able to find solid ground. I look to my original footing placement and the dark hole that now takes its place. Splinters cling to my ankle, but I ignore it, and a lunge up the foundation brings me inside again.

The air seems thicker. Missing planks in the tall ceiling cast beams of light and dust onto the old, hay ridden floor that must’ve not been cleaned in years. Each spotlight seems to hit different areas of the floor; the damp hay bails, the few small bugs that now take residence in them, and the old wheel in the corner that we had cast away after the strongest spoke gave. A bundle of rope hangs limp on the wall. A shovel lays rusted almost beyond recognition. I pick up a sooty bottle at my feet, and a dried tulip falls from it, its petals spreading like blown dandelions to the floor. I look around, noticing more bottles like it in the handfuls. Some still held the flowers we put in them years ago, others were empty bottles of soot. They all seemed different now. Before, everything we put around seemed to be strategically placed. Now, it just looks haphazardly thrown, as if we gave the years we left them all to permission to rearrange as they please.

My feet seem to guide themselves now. I run my fingertips across the wooden walls, keeping tally in my head of the small, sharp pieces that leap from the wall and cling to my hands instead. My gaze turns towards the holes in the ceiling, ignoring the burn from looking directly at the light. The wear on this place used to be so slim, something easily fixed by a yell to Mom or Dad to come and see a new project we had for them. I remember being the assistants, when holding up a bucket of plaster as Dad fixed the small holes made us as important as a general in the army or the president himself. And, when all was fixed, we could all look up to see the dust swaying towards the ground, and the light that remained outside our fortress. Now, the holes let that same light break through, and our fortress continues to expire, sinking closer and closer to the ground where it once came from, and where it is quickly returning to.

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